The show that started it all, by not happening.

It was all supposed to start 14 years ago today.

In 2001, I swore off concerts completely after a chance meeting with one of my heroes caused a rift with friends and family.  Not wanting to take the chance of hurting anyone again, I decided that I would never go to another show.  I had already seen, and met, my main heroes of the time, The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, and my other favourites weren’t on tour and didn’t seem likely to ever tour again.

I know that sounds super dramatic, and it was.  I was 18, and I lost my relationships with many of the most important people in my life at that time because of what happened at my ‘final’ concert.  But that’s a story for another time.

Fast forward to 2003, when Fleetwood Mac released their final studio album Say You Will, and toured behind it.

I skipped the Toronto show.  I held fast to my belief that my extreme luck was a curse.  I stayed well clear of the venue and any remotely fancy hotel (in case of accidental meetings, of course), despite the fact that I love that album and secretly would have given anything to see them live.

But somewhere in March of 2004, late one night while browsing the Fleetwood Mac message board I frequented, reading someone’s review, I snapped.

I can’t remember what song it was that they were detailing, what part of the setlist, what thing Lindsey did that made me say, “I need to go,” but I suddenly needed to go.  The tour was almost over, set to end in June, and didn’t circle back anywhere near me again.

I knew basically nothing about travelling then.  Since returning to live in Ontario in 2001, I had been dirt poor and had travelled only once–back to Virginia, by plane, in 2002.  I booked that through a travel agent because I didn’t know how to plan it myself.

But somehow I got it in my head that I could take a Greyhound anywhere I wanted to go. I discovered Expedia.com and its simple way to book a hotel.  I looked around for any upcoming shows near a major centre, and settled on Camden, NJ, because it was near Philadelphia.  The show was June 3rd, 2004.  I found one 6th row seat, and I bought it.

Then I ran through my 100-year-old rented townhouse in the middle of the night, hollering to my confused and indifferent roommate, “I’M GOING TO SEE FLEETWOOD MAC!!!!  I’M GOING TO SEE FLEETWOOD MAC!!!!!!”

It was just one show, I told myself and everyone else.  I would go straight there and back to my hotel.  I wouldn’t try to meet anyone, and there was no way I would accidentally do so either, this time.  I just needed to see this. one. show.

I waited impatiently for April and May to pass, dreaming of my much anticipated show.  I kept reading that message board, reading peoples’ reviews and show experiences, longing for the day that I would be one of them.  That I would have a show story, a show experience.  I planned out my route on public transit from my Philly hotel to the Camden venue; there was a train station right outside the amphitheatre, so it would be quite easy.

Then, Stevie Nicks strained her voice.

One show was postponed, then another, and another.  I waited.  Packed anyway.  I had my bus ticket and my pre-paid, non-refundable hotel room.  My 6th row seat.

But, just a day or two before I was set to leave, the worst happened.  My long-awaited show got cancelled too.  There was no immediate rescheduled date announced, either.

I want to say I was devastated.  But I wasn’t.  I became a Coyote determined.

I called Expedia and pleaded my case.  They called the Philly hotel, which had already had some cancellations due to the no-go show, and graciously agreed to issue me a full refund.  I looked around for another show, any other show, preferably in the vicinity of Philly or New York City since I already had bus tickets to both.

What I found was Scranton, Pennsylvania, on June 10th.

And, although that is a story for another day, I will say this: I feel I owe a large debt of gratitude to this show that failed to launch.  Because if I had been able to just go as planned, it may have ended there.  But because it didn’t, it started everything off with a story, an adventure, and brand new friends.

Because of this show that wasn’t, I became, and remain, a Coyote on a mission.

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